"Judi Wineland’s dream was like many others when it came to building a new park…to hear the laughter of children on new playground equipment. However, her circumstances were rather unique in that she wanted the new playground equipment installed in Kanatu, a small village in Tanzania. Ms. Wineland, co-founder of Thomson Safaris of Watertown, Massachusetts, did not let the 8,000 miles apart deter her. She was determined to find build a playground that was environmentally friendly, and after much research, elected to work with Doug Knotts of Premier Park & Play, the local representative of Play Mart. Play Mart, recognized as the leader in use of recycled materials in their playground equipment, was a perfect match, according to Ms. Wineland. She felt Play Mart shared the same values when it came to protecting the environment for future generations, whether it was in the United States or Africa.
Ms. Wineland and Mr. Knotts first met and started designing the park. In addition, Ms. Wineland solicited ideas from community members of Karatu via email and phone calls. After several months of planning, the equipment was ordered by and shipped by cargo ship across the Atlantic.
Often, park construction projects encounter obstacles; however, developing a park in a rural village in Africa was an especially daunting task. That did not stop Dawn Beach of Play Mart to volunteer as the construction supervisor. Ms. Beach indicated there were many challenges to overcome during the construction process, such as homeland security restrictions that limited the tools she could take for the construction, the two day travel time across the Atlantic with multiple layovers, and having no electricity available in the village. However, with proper planning and determination, the project was a big success! Ms. Beach indicated it was a wonderful experience and hopes to return. She spoke fondly of one special moment during the construction. When the swings were installed, two men sat on the swings and awaited the swings’ movement. Having never had the opportunity to use a swing before, they were unaware of how to use them. Once they were given instructions, the smiles and laughter from the grown men resonated throughout the park.
The village people of Kanatu are grateful to Thomson Safaris and Premier Park & Play for their generous donations and to Play Mart for providing a supervisor to assist in the construction. The shouts of joy now echo from the park that was once a barren strip of land. Ms. Wineland’s vision of a place for child to play safely and the community to come together is now a reality."